… Although the focus of my writing is directed towards teachers,
the principles and aspects of personal growth apply to every individual on the planet …
“You will not be good teachers if you focus only on what you do and not upon who you are.”
The role of the educator in any society is a sacred one, requiring a great deal of devotion. It is a path many do not choose, but are called to with purpose. Heart-centred teachers radiate passion and dedicate their lives to caring for our littlest human beings. We come into our roles glowing with the desire to make a difference, but for some over time that glow begins to dim.
We hear of teachers being broken and drained. Depleted of love, energy, time, health, well-being and spirit. We become consumed by our surroundings and loose touch with ourselves and the magic we hold inside.
We begin to place blame on external influences; society, government policies, and business models. We fall victim to the demanding employer, the negative colleague, the unrealistic expectations and the challenging children.
Then when we become stuck we look outside of ourselves, we hand our power over to others and begin to believe that we have no control over the circumstance we find ourselves in.
“Ships don’t sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.”
We are geared towards improvement, but for the majority this improvement we seek comes in the form of pursuing things external of ourselves rather than through self-improvement. We believe that if only our circumstances were more favourable we could ‘do’ better.
We want to DO better but in order for this to happen we must BE better and that’s an inside job. We need to go back and focus on who we are, then we can revisit what we do.
“All you can change is yourself, but sometimes that changes everything.”
Gary W. Goldstein
As professionals we make a commitment to ongoing intellectual development (PLD: Professional Learning Development) to enhance our knowledge, understanding and practice. Through self-evaluation and critical reflection we embark on a journey of professional growth, but is this same time and energy being spent on our own personal growth?
As educators we emphasise the importance of nurturing children’s holistic development by ensuring we encompass the multiple dimensions of learning; physical, intellectual, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual development. Are we applying this same balanced approach to our own personal growth?
We need to give ourselves what we want to give others. If we want to live a life that aligns with who we are, we need to take our growth and development into your own hands.
What is Personal Growth?
Personal growth is about watering yourself,
so that you can thrive regardless of the weather.
Personal growth has a profound effect on every single aspect of our lives. It is the ongoing process of understanding and developing ourselves in order to achieve our fullest potential and it is the foundation for holistic health and well-being.
As we grow on a personal level, we begin to feel more passionate about life.
Personal growth is powerful and it is an essential element to our growth as professionals. It goes hand in hand with professional development and even enhances it by ensuring we look deep within ourselves to discover the values and motivations behind what we do. It is an introspective and emotional inquiry - perhaps even spiritual for some.
We must allow ourselves to grow in order to bloom and this growth often leads to new paths, to making changes, to expanding knowledge, to self-awareness, improving skills, and developing new ones.
“You have to grow from the inside out. There is no other teacher but your own soul.”
Aspects of personal growth:
If you look the right way, you will see life as a garden. Pull weeds, plant dreams and grow happy.
It’s your garden; YOU are the garden!
“Don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers.
Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.”
Personal growth begins with self-awareness. Self-awareness is looking at, seeing and discovering who we really are. When we focus our attention on ourselves we begin to know and understand our bodies, our emotions, our thoughts, values and beliefs.
It is comparing who we have become (externally) with who we really are (internally) and working towards who we want to be. It is essentially knowing ourselves.
Self-awareness allows us to become conscious of our past, our history, our experiences and conditioning. It is the ability to examine our patterns, motives, thinking, and actions in order to free ourselves and learn from them.
Recognising ourselves in others
It is also observing how other people behave and recognising their positive and negative traits within ourselves. It is looking at our lives and the lives of others with an open and non-judgmental heart and mind to discover what changes we need to make.
When we are in touch with that place within ourselves, we can begin to apply this quality of awareness to every single aspect of our lives, both personally and professionally.
Clearing the weeds:
“Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds,
you can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.”
Awareness grows out of the present, so it’s to the present that we need to look first. When we are present and experience life, as it happens, in the very moment, as it is - we grow. In other words being mindful.
When was the last time that you truly looked around and appreciated the present moment you were in? Or sat somewhere quiet with the ability to just breathe and let your mind relax? It can be hard at first but once you learn to slow down and take moments for yourself, the way you see and interact with the world changes.
There is no relationship more important than the one we have with ourselves and no one that talks to us more than the voice inside our own head. That voice is responsible for our wandering mind and often forces our focus towards other things. Mindfulness helps us quieten this voice by detaching us from the passing thoughts that alter our perception. It’s about noticing our thoughts, observing them, taking a moment to pause and reflect and then letting them go.
There are many mindfulness acronyms that have been designed to support us through this process such as SOAR (Surrender Observe Allow Release) and RAIN (Recognise Accept Investigate Non-identification). The idea behind them is all the same; Pause, Reflect, Identify, and Detach.
Weeding doesn’t just apply to our thoughts. It applies to all people, places and things that no longer serve a meaningful purpose in our lives. Anything that holds us back, restricts us or prevents us from being our authentic selves. Anything that dampens our light.
It is making room for ourselves, by incorporating practices such as daily affirmations, intentions and gratitude. It is turning mistakes and challenges into lessons, transforming negative self-talk and surrounding ourselves with supportive and inspiring friends and colleagues that assist our person growth journey.
Planting the seeds:
“But, if you have nothing at all to create then perhaps you create yourself.”
Once we have raised our self-awareness we can gain a sense of direction.
When you look at your future, what do you see? Have you given it much thought? Before we can live the life we’ve always dreamed of, first we have to dream.
“A dream written down with a date,
becomes a goal.
A goal broken down into steps,
becomes a plan.
A plan backed by action,
makes your dreams reality.”
Greg. S. Reid
Having a vision is a key element to personal growth. When we know who we truly are, what we value and where we want to be, decision making becomes alot easier. When we live with vision, we live with direction, clarity, purpose and give our lives greater meaning.
There are many ways to create a vision. I prefer to use a journal but others may hold their vision firmly in their mind or like it displayed on a wall. It is creating a clear image of what you desire for yourself and from life. You can even get creative and use pictures, magazine cut outs, photos, quotes, inspirational writing, your own words or anything else that portrays what matters to you. A vision is seeing the best possible outcome for yourself, your relationships, your work, hobbies and passions.
A vision is the picture our mind creates of what our heart desires. Your vision will become clear when you look deep within your heart and is limited only by you; your heart has no limits.
“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about,
you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”
Envision your garden. The highest possible version of your garden. Plant one seed at a time and trust that in one way or another, you will get there.
The right environment:
“When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”
Alexander Den Heijer
If we want to grow a flower we provide the right conditions, if we want to grow ourselves, we have to do the same. To flourish, we need to create an environment that supports growth.
“Our soul is like a soft and gentle flower. It needs to be nurtured, cared for, tended to, with sufficient sunlight, fresh air and freedom to bloom into its most precious and beautiful form. This, my friend, is self-love.”
- Miya Yamanouchi
When we are in the position of caring for others we require a higher level of care for ourselves. We require a higher level of health and well-being. The more love we give ourselves, the more love we have to give to others. To read more about self-love you can view my blog “Love Yourself First”.
“You often feel tired, not because you’ve done too much, but because you’ve done too little of what sparks a light in you.” Unknown
When we stop focusing on our weaknesses and start paying more attention to our strengths, we feed the parts of ourselves that we want to grow. Most of us were taught when we were young that we needed to discover what our weaknesses were and then work on improving them. Instead, take time to discover your strengths and give your talents room to shine. What are you passionate about? What brings you joy? What ignites you? Do more of that!
FRESH AIR & SPACE
“If you surrender to the air, you could ride it.”
Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do. If we allowed ourselves the time and space needed to let thoughts blow through us, we would discover that we have all the answers we need. Growth requires us to develop our own inner knowing. We just need opportunities where we can listen.
Create space that allows time for rest, for silence, and for reflection. Turn inward and feel for the whispers of your soul.
“The quality of your life depends on what seeds you water.
The seeds that are watered frequently are the seeds that will grow strong.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
If we develop a passion for learning, we will never stop growing. When we water the seeds of knowledge we grow in understanding. Strive to discover something new every day.
“Every flower blooms in it’s own time.”
Self-growth is a spiral: We keep returning to the lessons we need to learn over and over again until they’re assimilated. Be patient. Enjoy every stage of the growing process and get as much out of every passing moment as you can. Every step we have taken to get to where we are today was a fundamental part of the growth process. We can't rush Mother Nature and the human experience isn't separate from this.
Working on personal growth doesn’t have to be difficult but all flowers have to grow through dirt.
Growing ourselves benefits all those around us, especially our children.
Through personal growth we live intentionally from the heart.
Remember; external changes follow internal changes.
“I cannot always control what goes on outside.
But I can always control what goes on inside.”